a senior public relations major and S.C. Honors College student
from Lexington, said she fell in the love with the program
after volunteering one time.
“It has been a great experience for me to travel to
different schools throughout the state and see the enthusiasm
of young students and to compare the school environments
in which they are learning,” Galardi said. “We
hear about the Corridor of Shame (rural schools along I-95),
but seeing it has made me an even bigger advocate for education.
Cocky’s Reading Express has been one of many factors
that played in my decision to apply for Teach for America.”
Cocky’s Reading Express was launched by USC’s
student government association in 2005 under the leadership
of Tommy Preston, then student body treasurer, and became
an immediate hit with students, teachers and parents.
“After our first trip, the requests for visits came
in rapidly,” said Preston who became student body president
in 2006. “At one point, I can remember having more
than 100 invitations from schools, libraries and literacy
events. Initially, we envisioned a week of trips across the
state during winter break. The program exploded beyond that.”
Preston, now a lawyer in Columbia, said he is thrilled to
see his idea for a student literacy project blossom into
a nationally renowned program.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support that Cocky’s
Reading Express has received from organizations and individuals
around the state,” he said. “I truly believe
that people are seeing the impact that our program is having
on the state, and they want to do their part to foster its
growth. Receiving national support from groups like the Barbara
Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and BP has exceeded my
wildest expectations. Cocky’s Reading Express is now
a national program, and universities across the country want
to do what we’re doing.”
As of today, volunteers and Cocky had made nearly 240 visits
to Palmetto State schools and delivered 39,412 books.